Things Seen in Kyoto

Thanks to a money issue, I ended up walking all over Kyoto instead of hitching a ride to places. The upside of that situation is that I saw a lot of things I might’ve missed if I had been on a bus most of the time.

Sometimes a picture is truly worth a thousand words, and I think that applies to this post. Here’s some things I saw as I was making my way around Kyoto:

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A water station at a shrine

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Gion at night

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The view from Shijo Bridge

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Nishiki Market

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Just a nice area near the Philosopher’s Path

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One of the many vending machines in Kyoto

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A nice path in central Kyoto

Looking back, I’d say that Kyoto has several places that are good for a stroll — even a long, LONG stroll. Overall, it’s a peaceful place.

Thanks for reading,

Emme

Iwatayama Monkey Park (嵐山モンキーパーク)

“Don’t stare at the monkeys in the eye.”

I kept that command in mind as I made my way up Mt. Arashiyama, following the trail as it weaved back and forth. I was early, so the only people I saw on my journey to Iwatayama Monkey Park were several members of a landscaping crew who would blow leaves off a section of the trail and then quickly take off on a four-wheeler to tackle another section. We exchanged smiles and the occasional hello, otherwise it was just me and the advice signs.

At the top, I found a pretty impressive view of Kyoto, a few friendly caretakers, and a TON of monkeys.

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There’s a room where you can feed the monkeys through the bars of a cage (the monkeys cling to the outside of it and reach in to take the food). However, I spent most of my time outside, either making my way up the short trail to hang out with the monkeys, or simply sitting on one of the benches near the viewpoint.

All in all, I spent about 90 minutes up there, and I would’ve stayed longer if the rain had held off for another hour. It was a peaceful morning spent in Kyoto.

Thanks for reading,

Emme

 

Bukhansan (북한산)

Prior to Bukhansan, I had never climbed a mountain, let alone gotten to the top of one. I’ve always liked hiking, but I’ve never been a serious hiker, you know?

That mindset changed when my friend, Annie, suggested that we climb Bukhansan on Hangul Day (a blissful day off from work). Everyone else ended up having the same idea, so the mountain was packed with people.

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A rare, RARE moment with no people around us..

It was a challenging hike. Near the top, the trail disappears entirely, and you have to start pulling yourself up the mountain via a series of cables. For us, that meant that we had to wait in line, too, because of all the people vying for a spot at the top. …Everyone took the time to encourage each other, at least!

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Me: “What is that man DOING.”

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We made it! (Annie left, I’m right)

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Sharing the space at the top…

After all was said and done, we had hiked up and down Bukhansan in about 7 hours. I may have spent the next several days hobbling everywhere (my poor legs), but the pain was well-worth it.

Now I can’t wait to climb another mountain.

Thanks for reading,

Emme

MARIS Coffee (마리스커피)

A friend recently took me to MARIS Coffee because it’s his favorite coffee shop here in Cheonan. Afterwards, I couldn’t thank him enough for letting me know that this place exists.

MARIS is a good mix of businesslike and cozy. It’s in a dark, minimalist, two-story building right by Cheonho Lake. The walls facing the lake are just rows upon rows of windows, letting in plenty of natural light. When the weather gets nicer again, I’m definitely gonna utilize the lake-facing deck space, as well.

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Cheonho Lake, with one of Cheonan’s universities in the background

Not to mention, the coffee and desserts are TASTY.

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My order was SO GOOD.

If you like coffee and find yourself in this area in the future, don’t skip this place.

Address:

충남 천안시 동남구 안서동 492-2번지

492-2 Sinan-dong, Dongnam-gu, Cheonan, Chungcheongnam-do

 

Thanks for reading,

Emme

 

Gakwonsa Temple (One Year Later)

One year later, I made it back to Gakwonsa temple. What a difference a single year makes!

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This is still my favorite building in the area

Some of my friends came with me this year. We discovered that the lake near the temple now has a walkway along it, and the water’s full of fish and turtles.

Additionally, the full-on construction work that was happening next to the main temple looks about finished. There wasn’t any screeching machinery or people yelling out instructions. And the main temple was open to everyone this time around. (Last year, they had closed it for some painting work.)

After leaving the main temple, I found the spot where I took that picture of the Buddha statue last year. The sky was overcast and one of my friends was there to pose for the size comparison. I couldn’t have been any happier.

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Really, I’m always happy at Gakwonsa. The views are always beautiful, no matter what the weather or season.

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Thanks for reading,

Emme

 

 

Arashiyama

Arashiyama was easily the highlight of my trip to Kyoto.

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I didn’t have the money for bus fare (long story), so I got up at 4 a.m. and walked three hours to get there before the crowds converged on it.
I was very tired by the time I arrived, but it was well worth the effort. Only three people (including me) were there.

With a fence on either side of the path, you can’t just wander off into the bamboo. That dampened my sense of adventure for a brief moment.

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However, staring at the bamboo and listening to the wind whispering all around me gave me a great sense of peace. I left feeling very relaxed and ready for the rest of my day.

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If I ever go back to Kyoto, it’ll be to see this place one more time.

Thanks for reading,

Emme

Seonimgyo Bridge

Seonimgyo Bridge is an arch bridge that crosses over the stream between the second and third tiers of Cheonjeyeon waterfall. There are seven nymphs carved on each side of it, referencing the Korean legend about seven nymphs that descended from heaven each night to bathe in the waterfall’s pond.

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The bridge is steep, not to mention a little unnerving, since the only thing separating you from a sheer drop is ONE. CHEST-HIGH. RAILING.

It connects Cheonjeyeon with the Jungmun Tourist Complex, although I didn’t stray too far into that area because I hadn’t gone to see the third waterfall yet. I did stop to appreciate the pagoda and the unexpected view of Cheonjeyeon Falls, though.

Thanks for reading,

Emme

T Express

The rollercoaster cars rattled overhead again and again as we waited in line. I could hardly stop bouncing in my excitement. This marked the first time I had had the opportunity to ride a rollercoaster since a family trip to Six Flags many years before.

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Needless to say, T Express did not disappoint. The first drop made my stomach shoot straight up into my esophagus. We all screamed as we rattled around each corner, back and forth until finally, finally, we reached the finish.

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I later learned that not only is T Express South Korea’s first wooden rollercoaster, but that it’s also in the top ten for every extreme stat. For example: it’s the second-steepest wooden rollercoaster in the world, only bested by Outlaw Run in the USA.

The lines at Everland were long, so this ended up being the one coaster I rode that day…which was more than enough!

Six Flags, who?

Thanks for reading,

Emme

The Waterfalls of Seogwipo

When I went to Jeju Island, my main goal was to see the various waterfalls scattered about/near Seogwipo. I ran off to find Jeongbang Waterfall pretty much the moment after I had safely stored my bags in my hostel!

Jeongbang Waterfall is the only waterfall in Asia that falls directly into the ocean. This was the first waterfall I went to see after my arrival, and it was definitely worth the walk.

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Jeongbang Waterfall

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Sojeongbang Waterfall is much smaller than Jeongbang, but it’s worth a visit if you’ve got the time. The stairs curve up right next to it!

Cheonjeyeon Falls actually consists of three waterfalls, which you reach via a series of footbridges. I spent the most time here compared to any other waterfall.

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Cheonjeyeon Falls

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The Second Waterfall

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The Third Waterfall

Then, finally, I hit up Cheonjiyeon Waterfall, which did not disappoint!

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Cheonjiyeon Waterfall

…I think it’s safe to say that I filled my waterfall quota for the trip. Thanks, Seogwipo.

And thanks for reading,

Emme

The Everland Zoo

The Everland Zoo is lovely, considering that it’s part of a theme park.

It was neat to see a panda up close, for example. And I appreciated how the workers regularly walked through the crowd, warning everyone to pipe down so that they didn’t disturb the animals. (Be nice to animals, y’all!!)

Marmosets clung to the bars of a large cage alongside an elevated forest path. The path itself led down, down, down — to the tigers, gibbons, penguins, and more.

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The elevated path.

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The view from the path.

The gibbons hung out on two small islands, crossing back and forth via a large rope stretched out over the water. Fennec foxes were running around in a small desert space. The coatimundis were able to use a series of bridges to travel to different enclosures, walking just above the heads of the human visitors below.

All in all, the zoo was a delightful way to spend a few hours, taking a breather between all of the rollercoasters….

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Thanks for reading,

Emme